The Benefits of Zinc and Magnesium

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    Not all minerals can be taken at the same time. The good news for zinc and magnesium is that they work well together.

    There are seven essential minerals your body needs for healthy, optimal functioning. Absorption of these minerals is key to getting the maximum benefits from them. Not all of them can be taken at the same time, as some interfere with the absorption of others. The good news with zinc and magnesium is that, so long as you don’t take zinc to excess, their absorption is mutually reinforcing and complimentary.

    What is zinc?

    Zinc's role in the body

    Zinc is a trace mineral, which means the body only needs it in small amounts. As a micronutrient, zinc is a cofactor in many enzymatic processes (polymerases and proteases) involved in numerous cellular functions. Zinc plays a major role in building proteins, healing damaged tissue, creating DNA, the growing of cells, and supporting immune and digestive health.

    Zinc is absorbed in the small intestines and should, ideally, be taken with copper to prevent mineral imbalances. It is both limited and poorly absorbed in plant-based food, so vegans and vegetarians may have an increased need for zinc supplementation.

    In a random cross-over study looking at the bioavailability of two oral forms of zinc, zinc bis-glycinate chelate and zinc gluconate, the results suggest the former (chelated zinc) absorbs better than the latter (zinc gluconate). The zinc formulated at Care/of contains the chelated form of zinc and copper to ensure easier digestion and mineral balance.

    Health benefits from taking a zinc supplement

    Zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in the body and it is found in every cell. It is essential for immune function, enzyme reactions, protein production, and cell growth and division. It is essential for a healthy immune system and overall health.

    This literature review found that zinc supplements can boost the gut barrier function.

    This abstract contends that zinc’s major role in regulating every phase of the wound healing process from membrane repair, oxidative stress, coagulation, immune defense, tissue re-epithelization, and angiogenesis to fibrosis/scar formation needs to be further studied. Inquiry into the mechanisms of zinc will greatly advance the treatment and care of difficult to heal wounds.

    Foods high in zinc

    Oysters contain significantly more zinc than any other food, but let’s face it, oysters aren’t everyday fare. Beef is especially high on the list of foods that are rich in zinc, as are blue crab, fortified breakfast cereals, and pumpkin seeds. Pork, turkey, shrimp, cheddar cheese, lentils, milk, Greek yogurt, sardines, brown rice, kidney beans, broccoli, mushrooms, kale, salmon, peanuts, cashews, chickpeas, whole wheat bread, and eggs all contain zinc, though all contain less than 20% of the daily value (DV).

    What is magnesium?

    Magnesium's role in the body

    Magnesium is a macro-mineral that is essential for close to 300 enzymes in the body and a multitude of chemical reactions. It is largely found in the skeletal system and is an important component of strong bones and teeth. Magnesium plays a crucial role in the body’s production of energy, as well as supporting nerve and muscle function. It also helps to keep the heart rhythm steady and to maintain an already healthy blood pressure. Stress, alcohol, exercise/sweating, and caffeine can deplete magnesium levels.

    Health benefits from taking a magnesium supplement

    Magnesium supports muscle function and recovery. This review found that magnesium supplementation may improve performance in both aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Researchers call for more rigorous, large-scale human research in order to establish the causal relationship.

    This abstract reports that magnesium partially reverses sleep EEG and nocturnal neuroendocrine changes that occur in humans during the aging process. They also report the possible efficacy of magnesium as a mood stabilizer. More research is called for.

    Magnesium is purported to help with stress levels. While stress can increase the potential for magnesium deficiency, there is also evidence that magnesium deficiency can increase the potential for stress. More studies are needed to determine the need for magnesium supplementation during stress periods.

    This analysis reports that persons with mental and physical stress can benefit from a daily intake of 400mg of magnesium over a 90 day period. The researchers contend that this daily supplementation could promote optimal magnesium levels to help alleviate magnesium deficiency-associated symptoms, such as occasional restlessness, irritability, or lack of concentration.

    Magnesium can help maintain healthy bones (60% of magnesium in the body is found in the bones). In this study supplementation with magnesium supported healthy bone mineral density.

    Foods high in magnesium

    Generally speaking, foods containing dietary fiber are a good source of magnesium. The list of magnesium rich foods includes almonds, avocados, Brazil nuts, peanuts, peanut butter, spinach, yogurt, Greek yogurt, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, black beans, brown rice, edamame, kidney beans, bananas, raisins, chia seeds, potatoes with skin, and whole grain bread. Care/of has an excellent article on magnesium-rich foods and how to integrate them into your diet.

    Can I take zinc and magnesium together?

    Zinc and magnesium are both essential minerals, and there is a misconception that you should not take the two of them together. In fact, when taken together at the correct dosage, zinc and magnesium can help reinforce each other’s absorption. All nutrients interact with one another in some way. Zinc and magnesium are synergistic minerals, meaning they can work together to enhance absorption and maximize their overlapping benefits. They work so well together that there are a number of oral supplements that contain both minerals.

    What are the health benefits of taking zinc and magnesium together?

    Magnesium helps your body to regulate its zinc levels, while zinc enables your body to absorb magnesium more efficiently. It is important that you keep your dose of zinc below 50mg per day because it can disrupt the magnesium absorption with larger doses.

    Recommended daily dose of zinc

    The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of zinc for adults is: female 8mg, male 11mg, pregnant person 11mg, lactating person 13mg.

    Recommended daily dose of magnesium

    The RDA of magnesium for adults is: female 280 to 300mg, male 270 to 400mg, pregnant person 320mg, lactating person 340 to 355mg.

    Potential risks and side effects from taking zinc and magnesium together

    Taking high levels of zinc in supplement form may interfere with magnesium absorption. If you are taking zinc at an extremely high dose due to medical issues, take zinc either two hours before or two hours after you take magnesium.

    Other vitamins and minerals that shouldn't be taken with zinc or magnesium

    Iron should be taken separately from all other minerals in order to prevent absorption issues. Calcium will also compete for absorption with other minerals, especially when taken in higher doses. It is okay to take calcium, zinc, and magnesium together in small amounts as part of a multivitamin, but if taking each on its own it is usually best to separate the calcium.

    Care/of has an excellent article, Get the Most Out of Your Supplements: What Go Well Together, that will help you in figuring out the supplements that work together and those that don’t. As always, when you are changing your supplementation, you should always ask your physician or healthcare provider what the best course of action is in order to meet your needs.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Our Editorial Staff
    Freelance Contributor
    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.